| New Delhi |
Updated: September 15, 2020 8:55:20 pm
China, the fount of the novel coronavirus disease that subsequently spread to over 200 countries, has now gone two days without reporting a single infection, according to Johns Hopkins University tracker — the tracker reported 196,017 new cases across the world on September 14. In fact, China has reported Covid-19 cases in only three days in September so far, with all of them being imported infections involving travellers from overseas, the country’s health authority has said.
For 30 consecutive days now, China has reported no locally transmitted cases, with Beijing allowing people to go mask-free and further relaxing pandemic restrictions. Moreover, it has also not witnessed any Covid-linked death for the 13th consecutive day.
China’s present tally stands at 90,219 cases, including 4,735 deaths. Globally, more than 29.27 million people have been infected and 926,716 have died.
The declining trend in Covid-19 cases has been observed since mid-July, when Beijing reported zero new infections for the first time since the emergence of a cluster in the Chinese capital in June that had prompted fears of a second wave. A total of 335 people had been infected since a cluster emerged at the city’s massive Xinfadi wholesale market in early June.
An analysis of data by JHU shows that China has added only 4,973 cases from July 15 to September 14. In the same period, it has seen only 91 fatalities.
Beijing health authorities allow residents to go mask-free
After the city reported 13 consecutive days without new cases, Beijing authorities in late August scrapped a requirement for people to wear masks outdoors for the second time. Beijing’s municipal Centers for Disease Control had first issued such a directive in late April even though rules were swiftly reversed in June after the outbreak at Xinfadi wholesale market.
In August, pictures of a densely packed pool party in an amusement park in Wuhan had gone viral, leading to criticism globally, even as media reports said it reflected the city’s success in its virus control efforts.
How China contained Covid-19
AFP reported that the key to the success in controlling the disease in the world’s most populous country (the third largest country by geographical area) has been the strict enforcement of local rules, including wearing masks, mandatory home quarantine and participating in mass testing. Travel into and out of the country still remains tightly controlled.
A recent research paper published in the journal Science, written by Benjamin Cowling and other researchers at the University of Hong Kong, said China was able to contain Covid-19 due to its ability to manage the serial interval. The serial interval is the duration between symptom onset of a primary case and symptom onset of its secondary cases (contacts).
In the paper titled “Serial interval of SARS-CoV-2 was shortened over time by non-pharmaceutical interventions”, the researchers found that the serial interval in Wuhan came down from 7.8 days to 2.6 days between early January and early February.
This, the researchers suggest, was made possible due to aggressive contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation, thereby ensuring that infected patients, because they were isolated, could not infect any more people later in the infection cycle.
Chinese leaders celebrate ‘success’ in containing Covid-19
Touting China’s response in containing the pandemic as a coronavirus success story, China’s leaders held a triumphant ceremony earlier this month, with none of the participants, including President Xi Jinping, wearing masks. In a nearly 70-minute speech, Jinping said China had passed “an extraordinary and historic test”. “We quickly achieved initial success in the people’s war against the coronavirus. We are leading the world in economic recovery and in the fight against Covid-19,” he said.
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